People point and laugh at Jim Knowles when he drives his Smart Fortwo Electric Drive through downtown Campbell River.
But he and his wife Catherine have the last laugh when they open up their hydro bill.
“I think the last bill was just a few dollars more than the one we got before we bought the car in July so that’s inexpensive driving,” said Knowles.
“I work out at the airport and so I travel about 10 kilometres each way, every day. I never let the battery go below 20 per cent but I still find I can sometimes go four days before I plug it in overnight.”
In the summer, Knowles said he can easily get up to the 160 km range on a single charge but knows the Vancouver Island winter will take that down to around 120 as the wipers and heater take their energy toll.
“We moved from Ladner three-and-half years ago with our Smart Diesel. I think people here thought we would by something a little bigger – this is the truck capital of the Island after all.”
But they came back from a car-shopping jaunt from Richmond with the little electric car, which set them back around $26,990 less a generous BC government rebate of $5,000.
“We stopped in Qualicum Beach to charge it for a couple of hours and made it back here easily.”
The car charges on what is called a level one (basic) charger but with rebates now offered on fast chargers, they are contemplating investing in one.
Knowles got in touch with Driveway to tell of his experiences with the Smart car, following our launch piece on the BMWi3 electric car a few weeks ago. (We would also like to hear from others, who are driving pure electric vehicles in rural areas.)
Electric vehicles are frequently dismissed as being good only for urban dwellers. The Knowles couple are demonstrating they can serve people outside of major cities. Admittedly, they don’t travel far each day, but then surely that’s the case for many rural residents.
Yes, trucks, larger cars and SUVs will always dominate in parts of the province where are harsh winters are commonplace and distances travelled are greater. But cars like the Smart and i3 maybe have a role to play as a family’s second vehicle in those locations.
What do you think?